GENESEO – SUNY Geneseo named and awarded individuals and organizations who are making the most lasting positive impressions on the Geneseo community.
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According to a press release from SUNY Geneseo, the College recognized individuals, student organizations, and community organizations with volunteer and service awards during the college’s annual Volunteer and Service Awards Dinner March 20.
“Volunteerism and service is within all of us,” said keynote speaker and 2016 Geneseo alumnus Dan Martin, himself a past recipient of two Geneseo volunteer and service awards. “Everyone in this room has a drive to make their community better. Find what you love, find your passion and find what your community needs next.”
Among his service commitments as a student, Martin spent three years as a board member of Livingston CARES, led two hurricane relief service trips to Biloxi, Mississippi and participated in two others. He also served three years on the executive board of Geneseo’s Colleges Against Cancer chapter.
Martin, a manager for Nestlé USA, will be joining the Livingston CARES team going to Puerto Rico in May for hurricane relief work, volunteer time that he says will hit home as he has family living there.
Robert Bonfiglio, vice president for student and campus life, commended the generous students and community volunteers for the good work they have done this year.
“We are celebrating all of you, who by being here tonight, are making a profound statement on the importance you place on community action and, indeed, on unity,” said Bonfiglio. “I would encourage you that, when you think of SUNY Geneseo, you think of it as ‘one of the greatest vehicles for community building there is.’ And I would like to encourage you to think of each other, at heart, as community builders.”
Individual students receiving awards at the ceremony were Justen Geddes, who has been a member of SUNY Geneseo First Response since his first year at Geneseo and is now chief of operations. He has been on call for 2000-plus hours with the organization. Elizabeth Rains, who has been involved with the Humane Society of Livingston County since 2016. In addition to her work there, she gladly transports underclassmen who also wish to volunteer. Mina Raj, who has been devoted to serving in the Geneseo community and creating service opportunities for other since her arrival to campus. She was vice president of service in the Alpha Phi Omega service organization in 2017 and last fall planned the Third Annual Walk to End Diabetes. Brighid Maire-Smith, who has worked the past seven years with people with disabilities and special need in both Rochester and Buffalo, including working at a summer camp for children with special needs. She also has a passion for helping homeless individuals. Taylor Smithers, who has been the community service assistant for America Reads/America Counts since the beginning of her sophomore year and plans to continue in that role until the end of her senior year. Ganie DeHart, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology, who began teaching at Geneseo in 1988 and has published widely in her field. She received a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010 and believes very strongly in the value of service learning.
Leah Christman received the 2018 Newman Civic Fellowship, a national recognition. It’s a year-long fellowship for community-committed college students from institutions that are members of the Campus Compact. Chosen students are considered tireless advocates for civic engagement in higher education, who are invested in finding solutions to challenges facing communities throughout the United State and abroad.
Organizations receiving awards were Catholic Charities of Livingston County, which provides direct assistance to people in need, advocates for social and economic justice and encourages self-sufficiency through education and support. Food Security Advocates, which is a student group run out of the Center for Community’s office of Student Volunteerism and Community Engagement that seeks to address issues of food insecurity and food waste on campus and throughout the region. FORCES: Friends of Recreation, Conservation and Environmental Stewardship at Geneseo, which provides student with an opportunity to connect with their local parks and engages in weekly service work. Pi Kappa Phi, a national fraternity with its own philanthropy: The Ability Experience, which focuses on creating communities where the abilities of all people are recognized and valued.
Also honored at the event was Tom Matthews, associate dean of leadership and service, for his long record of facilitating service and volunteerism at Geneseo, who will be retiring this summer after 51 years with the College.
“Tom has done more than anyone among us to advance the notion that community engagement and a college education goes hand in hand and is one of the most capable community builders I have known,” said Bonfiglio.
Co-sponsors of the event were Wegmans, the college’s GOLD Program (Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development), the Office of Student Volunteerism and Community Engagement, the Center for Community and the Division of Student and Campus Life.
The college’s Advisory Committee on Volunteer and Service Programs created the awards in 2011 to recognize the awardees for their high level of commitment to service with the college’s community partners.